A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery #5
Poisoned Pen Press, February 2018
From the publisher: Psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi consults with the Pittsburgh Police. His specialty is treating victims of violent crime – – those who’ve survived an armed robbery, kidnapping, or sexual assault, but whose traumatic experience still haunts them. “Head Winds” picks up where Rinaldi’s investigation in “Phantom Limb” left off, turning the tables on him as he, himself, becomes the target of a vicious killer. “Miles Davis saved my life.” With these words, Rinaldi becomes a participant in a domestic drama that blows up right outside his front door, saved from a bullet to the brain by pure chance. In the chaos that follows, Rinaldi learns his bad-girl, wealthy neighbor has told her hair-triggered boyfriend Rinaldi is her lover. As things heat up, Rinaldi becomes a murder suspect. But this is just the first act in this chilling, edge-of-your-seat thriller. As one savagery follows another, Rinaldi is forced to relive a terrible night that haunts him still. And to realize that now he – – and those he loves – – are being victimized by a brilliant killer still in the grip of delusion. Determined to destroy Rinaldi by systemically targeting those close to him – – his patients, colleagues and friends – – computer genius Sebastian Maddox thrives to cause as much psychological pain as possible, before finally orchestrating a bold, macabre death for his quarry. How ironic. As Pittsburgh morphs from a blue-collar town to a tech giant, a psychopath deploys technology in a murderous way. Enter two other figures from Rinaldi’s past: retired FBI profiler Lyle Barnes, once a patient who Rinaldi treated for night terrors; and Special Agent Gloria Reese, with whom he falls into a surprising, erotically charged affair. Warned by Maddox not to engage the authorities or else random innocents throughout the city will die, Rinaldi and these two unlikely allies engage in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with an elusive killer who’ll stop at nothing in pursuit of what he imagines is revenge.
The reader is put on notice of what awaits with a quote from no less a writer than Albert Camus: “The desire for possession is insatiable, to such a point that it can survive even love itself.”
The Miles Davis reference, which is the first line in the book, is from a scene where Rinaldi is reading a 3-inch-thick dossier written about his late wife, hidden in the pages of which “was an overlooked or ignored piece of evidence proving that my wife’s death almost a dozen years ago hadn’t been what it seemed. That the gunfire that ended Barbara’s life was not the lethal result of a mugging gone wrong. It was murder.” Two bullets killed his wife, the third hitting him in the head. The ensuing novel is all about finding the man who had killed his wife, who now wants him dead. He is now “working out my survival guilt. A misguided attempt to make up for the fact that Barbara had died that fateful night and I hadn’t.” It is an understatement to say that it is wonderfully well-written, suspenseful, and a complete page-turner.
The descriptions of Pittsburgh are terrific [to a lifelong New Yorker]: “The Steel City continued to morph from a blue-collar, industrial town into a gentrified, white-collar hub of business and technology. . . Pittsburgh now boasted a new, modern skyline, no longer obscured by dark plumes of smoke from a hundred smokestacks.” Rinaldi and his two comrades take on Maddox in an unpredictable chase that kept me glued to the page.
Another fascinating entry [the fifth] in a much-loved series, and one which is highly recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2018.